The Rental Housing Supply Coalition—comprised of government, business, and nonprofit representatives—has penned an open letter to four federal party leaders: Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton, and Elizabeth May. It highlights the gap between the need for and supply of rental housing.
“It is estimated that there will be a demand for 6500 rental units per year in Metro Vancouver, with most of this demand coming from households with incomes of less than $45,000,” the April 11 letter states. “Construction levels of purpose built rental housing have averaged only 600 units per year.”
The coalition, which is cochaired by New Westminster mayor Wayne Wright and Urban Development Institute executive director Maureen Enser, describes the shortage of affordable rental housing in the region as “critical”.
On Friday (April 15), they will make a presentation on this topic to the Metro Vancouver housing committee. Secondary suites and rented condo suites provide some relief, the coalition claims, but neither option provides a “permanent solution to the lack of rental supply”. The rental market needs to be healthy in order to retain working young people and families, the letter states.
Coalition members are recommending three major steps. First, they want to see tax incentives provided and “a taxation environment that stimulates the construction of, and investment in rental housing, such as reinstating the ability to defer capital gains tax upon reinvestment, accelerated depreciation, deducting losses against other income, and permitting GST/HST exemption”.
Secondly, the coalition seeks implementation of a national housing plan that will “bring together stakeholders and develop a road-map” for increasing affordable rental housing supply. Thirdly, the group is asking to see more nonprofit and co-op housing built through direct capital investment and long-term, low-cost financing.